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W.S. Merwin

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry

So I had to listen to all of these morning services, and I was allowed to do drawings and things, and then do what I wanted with a little pad and pencil. And I was fascinated by two things. One of them was the language of the King James version of the Bible -- which was different from the language that we spoke -- the language of the psalms. There was a whole lot of the Bible that I got to know by heart without even thinking about it, and the language of the hymns: "the spacious firmament on high" and "the blue ethereal sky." I didn't know what half of the words meant, thought it was wonderful, you know. It's funny, the way it rhymed, and so I wanted to write that. And my mother read to us, which is very important. She read Stevenson's Child's Garden of Verses and she read Tennyson, "The Brook," and a lot of poems like that. And that's wonderful when parents read -- not just stories -- but poems to their children, because the language of poetry is different from the language of prose, and children pick up that language. And if they can pick it up very early, it's really very, very important. They are likely to always love it if they do. I suspect that they really naturally do.
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W.S. Merwin

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry

I must have read Robinson Crusoe four or five times and Swiss Family Robinson and Treasure Island, all of Stevenson. A book called Ship's Monkey about a ship off to Borneo, and books about American Indians. I really taught myself to read because there was a book about Indians with pictures, a lot of pictures of Indians, and it was a children's book, but it had a text at the bottom of each page and I couldn't read the text. So I asked word by word what the words were until I could read the book about the Indians because I wanted to live in a place like the place they lived in, in the woods. So that taught -- it was two things, I mean learning to read, because of a fascination with people who didn't read and write, that's sort of interesting. And realizing that early that I really wanted to live not in a city, but in the forest.
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James Michener

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist

And, I am certainly not a stylist in English language, using arcane words and very fanciful construction and so on. There is a great deal I can't do but Boy, I can tell a story. I can get a person, with moderate interest in what I am writing about, and if she or he will stay with me for the first one hundred pages, which are very difficult, and I make them difficult, he will be hooked. He will want to know what's happening on the next story and the next story and the next. That I have. And that's a wonderful gift. That's storytelling. And I prize it. I try to keep it cleaned up. I try to keep it on focus. I am wretched when I fail and feel and sense of terrible defeat.
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James Michener

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist

I believe throughout history, through all of history, way back to the most early days of the human race, when people gathered around the fireplace at night, they wanted to remember what had happened and reflect upon the big events of that day and reassess values and maybe get new dedication to the next day. Well, I'm one of the guys who sat around the fireplace and did the talking.
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George Mitchell

Presidential Medal of Freedom

No matter how many times you hear or read the words that are at the base of the Statue of Liberty, the famous poem by Emma Lazarus -- "Give us your tired and your poor " -- you get goose bumps, and you think about the fact that the United States has been the place of hope and opportunity for people from its very beginning to the present day.
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